Published in the Rains County Leader on December 13, 2016:
The children at our church presented a Christmas pageant during the worship service last Sunday morning. It was quite an elaborate production with a backdrop that portrayed Israel as it might have looked on the night Jesus was born. The children wore costumes that could be called authentic with touches of country casual and high fashion. There were wise men with jeans and cowboy boots and angels with stylish footwear – everything from chic sandals to suede boots with faux-fur trim.
While a narrator read an account of the Nativity, the children acted out the familiar story. My favorite scene was when the Angel Gabriel made his visit to Mary. Actually, it was one of our kindergarten boys who stood up on a cabinet behind the keyboard, but the effect was dramatic, and his demeanor was suitably serious. Mary fell to her knees in fear but was soon reassured by the message and the promise she heard.
Joseph was concerned when he first learned of the child to come, but after the angel convinced him that all was well, he and Mary were married. He must have spent his livestock money on the golf-ball-sized ring his new bride wore, because she made the trip to Bethlehem in a red wagon with a sign saying “Donkey” on each side instead of on the real thing.
When the couple settled into the stable for the night, the new mother wrapped her baby warmly and placed him gently in the manger. One of the resident pre-kindergarten cows immediately took charge of the child and retained possession for the rest of the presentation.
A sixth-grade angel did a beautiful job of announcing the good news to several shepherds and their small flock. When she finished her solo, she was joined by a host of angels who helped her sing of the joy of Christmas.
While the shepherds herded their sheep toward Bethlehem and the Wise Men followed the star from the East, the angels moved to the main stage. With worship streamers in hand, the entire cast joined in the final song celebrating the first Christmas. The tiny cow, carrying the baby Jesus, went and stood with the angels.
When the song came to an end, the sixth-grade angel said, “It was the best night ever!” Then, she passed the microphone to the angel next to her who said the same thing. The microphone passed from hand to hand until every child, except for one shy wise man who simply passed it on without speaking, had repeated the line. Finally, the Star of Bethlehem who had presided over the scene while standing on a chair at the back of the stage took the microphone and announced, “It was the best night ever! The End!”
The adults are scheduled to present a four-song mini-cantata next Sunday. In retrospect, I’m thinking that maybe we should have scheduled our program first – those kids are a tough act to follow. Still, even without a beautiful backdrop, adorable costumes, or “Awww” moments, the message will come through loud and clear. The night when Jesus was born was the best night ever. It wasn’t the end, though – it was a new beginning.
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